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Censorship fears spark criticism of Tencent funding reports: Reddit

14 February 2019
Censorship fears spark criticism of Tencent funding reports: Reddit

Tencent invested $150 million, joining past Reddit investors like Sequoia, Fidelity, Tacit and Snoop Dogg, which were part of this funding round as well.

Some Reddit users are concerned that adding Chinese blood to the website might result in a cleansing of anti-China comments in the Reddit community.

Founded in 2005 by two University of Virginia students, Reddit has continued to attract a loyal user base despite its relatively simple format, where users are invited to discuss just about any topic on more than 150,000 "sub-Reddit" forums.

Reddit has been on a roll lately, growing its audience to 330 million monthly active users generating 14 billion page views in 2018.

Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. was among the investors in the round, which values the link-sharing website at $3 billion.

Most analysts agree that it is unlikely Tencent or any other such investor would be able to control what content is posted on the site but that hasn't stopped a stream of memes and protest messages appearing in the past few days. And China-based messaging apps like WeChat (owned by Tencent) and other social media services are restricted. The Reddit platform allows users to share links on any conceivable subject, which are then up-or down-voted, meaning the most popular content surfaces to the top and is more prominent.

To protest the move and express fears of free speech challenges on the site, Reddit users posted images which are banned in China, including the iconic Tank Man images from the Tiananmen Square massacre and pictures of Winnie the Pooh.

The TechCrunch website reported the funding round last week, but that information was unconfirmed until now.

Images of the storybook bear were reportedly banned online in China after bloggers used them to represent Xi in posts.

Reddit is not the first US social media platform to court investment from Tencent.